A big boost for squash around the country with 170 players taking part in the North Island Junior Champs starting at the Hamilton Squash and Tennis Club today through until grand finals on Monday afternoon.
It’s the first large squash event since lockdown and has players from all around the country, including nationally and internationally ranked senior players in the form of Elijah Thomas and Glenn Templeton.
Thomas, who is still 17-years-old from Auckland has a PSA world senior ranking of 257 in the world while 18-year-old Templeton from Katikati is 100 places lower on the world rankings.
In last year’s National Junior Champs it was Templeton who stands at 1.95m in height who won the title over Thomas in a five game final. They are the top two seeds in the North Island Juniors in the Waikato this weekend with Northlands Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist and Auckland’s Jack Conder as their main rivals in the U19 draw.
In the U19 women’s draw Natalie Sayes from the Belmont Club in Auckland is the top seed and favourite for the title. At still only 15-years-old she had a huge amount of experience in professional events and has a PSA world ranking already.
The U17 boys has Marlborough’s Paul Moran and Tauranga’s Joe Smythe as two of the top seeded entrants with both making the transition into senior PSA tournaments around the country as well. The wildcard players to watch are the Henderson Squash Club pair of 16-year-old Mason Smales and 15-year-old Apa Fatialofa who both have a huge array of shots to choose from in their games.
The U17 girls draw has Hamilton Squash Club’s Sophie Hodges and Havelock North’s Jena Gregory as two of the top ranked players in yet another capacity draw.
They are a part of a number of players searching for matches after the World Junior Championships on the Gold Coast were cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other draws also have large numbers as players try and make their marks leading up to the National Junior Championships in Christchurch in October or the National Senior Championships in Auckland in August.